When an addict gives up their substance of choice, this is just the beginning of a lifelong recovery journey. Recovery truly is a process that requires learning how to deal with life minus the use of drugs, alcohol or other toxic behaviours. It involves establishing healthy habits of self-care, being accountable and responsible for one’s actions, and maintaining relationships that help to foster ongoing growth and trust in one’s new sober life.
If someone you love or care for is in early recovery, it is only natural to want to be supportive but sometimes knowing how to help can seem confusing or overwhelming. Below are a few options to consider that can help you to support someone in your life going through recovery. All recovery journeys will be different but all require the support of friends and loved ones to be successful.
Say that you want to help & discuss how you can help
Sometimes those in recovery will flat out ask for assistance, other times they may be embarrassed or feel shameful asking for help. By stating aloud that you want to help however you can, the person you care for knows they need not fear your refusal or judgement supposing they do want the help. Simply say, “I want to help, let me know if I can.”
Supposing they are receptive to your invitation, next is establishing how you can help. It can be as simple as providing a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or giving rides to support meetings, appointments or helping them find additional support through professional help or literature. If your friend is seeking treatment, you can also help research prospective addiction recovery programs or centres, 12-step groups and so on.
When you offer support, ensure you are actually available to help when called on. Commit to a daily or weekly check in by phone or in person. If you’ve agreed to be available, make sure you show up. Also, consider creating a backup plan for when you are unavailable so that there is an alternative person whom your loved one can contact if they need to talk something out asap.
Encourage responsibility and accountability
You cannot do the work in someone else’s recovery. In the end, they must change their life for themselves. Do not enable or take on things that the person in recovery should be taking care of. Instead, encourage them to ultimately take control of their own life and acknowledge when they have done so, so they can be accountable and take pride in their healthy actions. By celebrating their triumphs with them and providing encouragement throughout their recovery journey, you also help to build their sense of self-confidence. Help them build healthier habits, coping skills, and hope in themselves by letting them do the work they need to live a life in recovery.
Promote healthy choices
Help the person you care about establish healthier habits and coping skills. Recovery should take on a holistic approach that includes caring for all aspects of the self – the mind, body, and spirit. Promote sober activities that help to nourish all these aspects like exercising, eating better, getting enough rest, meditation, finding a solid sober social network or peer support group.
Help the person you care for reclaim their talents, hobbies, interests, and goals by participating in activities that you know they enjoy and that are healthy.
One of the most valuable things you can do to support a loved one in recovery is to help them keep hope alive. Change is possible. By firmly supporting and remaining hopeful in your loved one’s capacity to heal and create a better life for themselves, you inspire them to keep on with their sober journey. Your hope can be the very motivation which helps fuel your loved one’s effort to take control of their life and keep on with their recovery.